Bernie Sanders may have been faltering in the Democratic race for nomination against Hillary Clinton lately and will most probably not win the nomination come July, but there are reasons why many believe that he has already accomplished what he set out to do in the first place.
While Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio contested for presidency for the first time (let’s not even try and talk about Trump’s campaign!), and while Hillary Clinton’s bid could be considered a final culmination of a long political career, Senator Sanders’ foray into the presidential race was not only unexpected, but also a step which many deemed as not being a serious pursuit in the beginning. But eight months on, it seems like Bernie’s campaign was acutely underestimated.
First, Sanders has been able to thrust a peripheral political vantage point into the mainstream. Through his left-leaning perch, Sanders has forever worked towards expanding the political and economic discourse in the country, but for the first time in his career, he has had the opportunity to bring his ideological stances into mainstream consciousness with such vigor.
Even if Sanders was to contest, his close aides wondered last year, he was technically not a Democrat, which would definitely put him at odds with many Democratic backers. And while that has been the case, and will probably become the reason for his eventual defeat to Clinton, there is also little doubt that Sanders’ organizational and political skills have clearly been underestimated — even by Clinton herself.
“Running for president this year probably seemed like a good idea because the limits of the field would allow [Sanders] to garner a great deal of attention as the champion of the left; with Clinton having cleared the field of all but a couple of longshots, the opening was there for a more liberal candidate. He wanted to make a point — about particular issues, about the Democratic Party, and about American politics in general — and he’d never have a better opportunity. Given Sanders’ age, it was also probably the last chance he’d have to mount a bid.”
As the point illustrates, Bernie Sanders has been able to expand the political discourse in America to a remarkable degree. While politicians usually shy away from talking about issues like corporate funding of political campaigns, or Wall Street reforms, or single-payer healthcare, or free college tuition, Sanders has built his campaign around such issues. He has tackled issues of political corruption at the highest levels head-on, and while one can be assured that there is certainly no magic wand the Vermont senator possesses, his campaign would leave future presidential candidates hopeful in that there is every possibility for a president not to be lobbied into the White House, but reach there on the back of a successful ground-level campaign.
“More people heard Bernie Sanders’ advocacy for single-payer health care, free college tuition, and public financing of campaigns than did in the entirety of his prior career.”
Of course, much of that is definitely down to the freedom he has enjoyed of not being dependent on Wall Street for his presidential campaign, which now brings us to another successful ingredient in his campaign. Sanders is the first presidential candidate in the history of the United States to have raised money from more than three million individual donors. In fact, 99.97 percent of his campaign funding comes from donations.
That, by any standard, is an absolutely fantastic achievement. Future politicians will take a leaf out of Bernie’s notebook to see how ground-level funding can help propel a candidate into the highest office of the land, or at least allow them to compete against overwhelming odds.
Noam Chomsky thinks Bernie Sanders has done more than his fair share already, but he believes that real change will happen if the popular movements are sustained, according to Raw Story.
“Bernie Sanders is doing courageous things and organizing a lot of people. That campaign ought to be directed to sustaining a popular movement which will use the election as an incentive. The only thing that’ll ever bring about meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated popular movements which don’t pay attention to the election cycle. It’s an extravaganza every four years but then we go on.”
Another reason that Sanders’ campaign can be considered a success already is the support he has managed to garner among the millennials of the country. While it is true that this might be Sanders’ only presidential campaign, the fact of the matter is that Sanders has won more votes among people under 30 than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined, according to the nonprofit research group CIRCLE.
Bernie Sanders is expected to start racking up a series of victories over the next two to three weeks as the Democratic primary heads out West. But while that might still not be enough for him to snatch the Democratic nomination away from Hillary Clinton, one thing is certain: Sanders’ campaign has been successful, to the say the least, and that would leave him with a lot of satisfaction.
As for common Americans, the message is even simpler: Bernie Sanders might not emerge as the leader of all the popular movements going on in the country, but their vision for change could surely be realized.
[Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]